South Carolina committee offers recommendations for spending ARPA money

South Carolina’s AccelerateSC committee brought forward 19 recommendations Tuesday for spending COVID-19 relief funds related to the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other stimulus money.

Much of the ARPA funds must be spent by Dec. 31, 2024, and some infrastructure project funding must be allocated by that date and spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

Included in the recommendations was spending up to $10 million on a third-party vendor to administer the funds. The committee suggested the state again use Guidehouse for those services. Guidehouse is a professional management services company based in Virginia that became the successor to PricewaterhouseCooper’s public sector business in 2015.

South Carolina has paid Guidehouse $10.9 million for administration of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds. An extension of that contract could mean Guidehouse would charge South Carolina as much as $391 an hour for its continued work, according to a document obtained by The Center Square though a public records request.

Guidehouse would be responsible for administering the state’s distribution of as much as $2.5 billion in ARPA state fiscal recovery funds for everything from $250 million in business grants and $400 million in matching grants for water, sewer and wastewater infrastructure to $72.5 million in cybersecurity for water and wastewater.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. “We’ve got a lot of money that we can use, and we need to make sure that we are not overlapping. … We are in a great position to make some big steps, some transformative steps.”

The plan presented Tuesday also included $36 million in workforce development training, which will pay for 4,800 individuals annually for the next three years to have access to the state’s workforce training program.

The recommendations included up to $350 million for a Navy Base Intermodal Facility and container barge infrastructure at the state’s ports. The committee estimated the port system is responsible for 1 in 10 jobs in the state with a $63.4 billion annual economic impact statewide and port jobs paying 32% higher than the average statewide wage.

“This (set of recommendations) is something that really hits on an investment in long-term capital,” AccelerateSC Executive Director James Burns said.

Burns said $490 million in broadband expansion funds will include a beta test of 500 homes with Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet system, but the money will be used mainly to help the state’s 166,000 structures that don’t have the minimum required broadband service of 25 mbps for download to reach that goal. South Carolina’s Office of Regulatory Staff estimates $202 million of private industry money also will be spent on reaching that goal.

The recommended plan also includes $47.5 million in tourism recovery and beach renourishment spending, $18.9 million in information technology infrastructure for health agencies, $50 million in nonprofit relief, $27.4 million for state law enforcement body-worn cameras, up to $10 million toward a state stockpile of personal protective equipment, $14.6 million for emergency management facility expansion, more than $50 million in agribusiness grants and $453 million in state revenue loss replacement.

This article was originally posted on South Carolina committee offers recommendations for spending ARPA money

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